UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Course structure and content

Find out about the modules, dissertation and other aspects of UCL's Light and Lighting MSc.

The course lasts one calendar year full-time or two calendar years part-time (flexible-modular) and starts in late September. It is taught through lecture/seminars supplemented by project design work.

To obtain the MSc, all students must successfully complete 120 approaved credits, plus the dissertation. At least 105 of these credits must come from the programme curriculum, including all core modules. To take any other modules, students must obtain advance approval from both the course director and the relevant module director. 


    Compulsory core modules

    Lighting Fundamentals, Term 1

    Acting as a fundamental module, this module is an introduction to the tools of lighting: natural daylight, lighting technologies and the design calculations used. It deals with the human response to lighting, the fundamental definitions of the subject, and lighting engineering calculations (both daylighting and electric lighting).


    Coursework and Exam, 15 credits

    Lighting Applied Calculations, Term 2

    This module takes the mathematical models and physical concepts of illumination and matches them with the reality of the luminous environment. It deals with the application of engineering and mathematical models to the lit environment. 


    Coursework, 15 credits

    Lighting Research, Term 1

    In this module, lighting research results and the resulting theoretical models are introduced to the student in the area of human factors in lighting and illuminating engineering. It introduces research-based results and theoretical model-building in the human response to lighting and lighting engineering calculations.


    Coursework, 15 credits

    Advanced Lighting Design, Terms 1 and 2

    This module aims to produce confident, articulate lighting designers who can demonstrate the ability to use lighting design techniques to produce conceptual lighting designs and luminaire product designs. It consists of a set of focused lighting design projects covering the appraisal of lighting, luminaire (light fitting) design and a major design project covering all the issues involved in the integration of daylighting and electric lighting necessary to produce sustainable lighting designs.


    Group and Individual project work, 30 credits

    Advanced Lighting Control Design, Term 2 

    In this module you will learn how to design a lighting control system to meet people’s needs in different environments and to understand the practical implications and consequences of your design. This is a structured design module in which you will be guided through the relevant theory so that you can make informed lighting control design decisions.


    Coursework and Examination, 15 credits

    The Evolution of Lighting Design, Term 1

    This module will explore the evolution of lighting design and technologies over time, to give you a full understanding of the historical context of current Lighting Design Practice. It will address how design approaches have been influenced by the technology of the time.


    Coursework, 15 credits

    Optional module

    Lighting Practice, Term 1

    This module aims to prepare the future lighting designer for lighting practice by a description of the context in which they will work as well as the constraints on them. It covers material relevant to those who wish to practice as a lighting consultant and the legislative, contractual and the technological constraints which must be met to achieve sustainable lighting solutions.


    Coursework, 15 credits

    Flexible-modular study

    Breakdown of modules for part-time students

    Flexible-modular students take modules as follows:

    First year

    • Lighting Fundamentals
    • Lighting Applied Calculations
    • Advanced Lighting Design

    Second year

    • Lighting Research
    • Evolution of Lighting Design
    • Lighting Practice
    • Advanced Lighting Control Design

    Dissertation, Terms 2 and 3

    The dissertation (60 credits) allows the future lighting specialist to demonstrate a deep understanding of the lighting knowledge base. It involves the preparation and submission of a 10,000-word report on a topic associated with sustainability and light and lighting in the built environment.

    Examples of recent student dissertations
    • Brightness-luminance relationships in real environments
    • The convivial city: towards a strategy for dynamic urban lighting
    • Lighting for ocean liners and city ships of the future A critique of Building Regulations Part L, in relation to lighting
    • The development of a prototype lighting notation system Innovator or imitator: a critical review of Sir John Soane's mastery of daylighting     
    • Re-lighting post-war modern buildings Light, shadow and ambiguity Light in sacred buildings
    • Luminance intensity and distribution of exterior LED screens Whiteness evaluation.
    • Attentional capture in retail Luminous media facades


    The Bartlett plays an active part in lighting research. Recent studies have investigated the human response to light patterns and their importance in lighting design, the development of user-friendly interfaces to sophisticated lighting visualisation software and site-specific studies of urban lighting strategies. Much of the research actively informs the teaching on the course.